Nowadays it seems natural that every single adult is aware of the First World War and the scars that it had left on our society. But what is that coming to our minds when we think of WW1? The majority certainly thinks of it as the first military conflict of such a scale in human history. Some might recover from their memory that it saw more than 20 nations directly involved in a bloody conflict, 65 million people mobilised and more than 30 million people killed and injured. Others might find themselves more concerned with the disastrous effects of the war: ruined cities (just in France 9 villages were completely destroyed during the war and some of them were never rebuilt) and collapsed economies (inflation in Europe caused by the heavy debt of over $10 billion).
When I think of WWI I usually see it as an evidence of the fragility of the international political system and the upsetting absence of inter-state links that would be strong enough to prevent a war between European countries. And I certainly think of the place this war has in the Armenian history as the stage for massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire – the genocide of 1915.
Meanwhile, there is something that remains hidden under the significance of historical, political and economic aspects of this war. It is the recognition of the importance of those who became part of this bloody conflict over the bare facts and statistics. Those soldiers were not just faceless crowds, they were real people, each with a personal story; people who had families, plans and hopes and were destined to abandon them and join millions of other nameless heroes.
This project is about learning about those heroes and their deeds, discovering their stories and delivering them to the wider public to ensure that their names are not forgotten. I joined this project not only because of my interest in the First World War but also because of the unique chance to hear those fascinating stories and to feel like touching history that has been covert for many years.
Mariam Torosyan is a volunteer of the UK Armenians & WW1 project and an International Relations student.